I’ve been photoshopping advertisements for Rune Bear‘s weekly posts. In each image I tried to capture some element of the companion piece while not making a picture that sucks terribly. Some have been not-so-great, as to be expected, but these three below were somewhat successful.
The first is a rune bear mounted on the wall for Amanda Bender’s “The Hero and the Hunter.” Her piece is part one of an emerging storyline (we’ll be posting Part II at a later date). Basically, a failing zoo has to turn to a big game hunter who pursues exotic beasts. But since Rune Bear Weekly features pieces that are under three hundred words, I’ll have to be careful summarizing anything, since the synopsis might end up longer than the story.
Look at those pain-sullied eyes. Look at ’em.
The second image is of a bear spying on himself in a sword blade. This was created for T. J. Locustwood’s “The Recruitment of Steel.” The piece is a cantos that pairs with his upcoming book, Alexander Croft and the Corvian Wrath.
Finally, for Joe Amaral’s “We are Seeds,” about a village destroyed and its sole vengeful survivor (a little girl with druidic magic), I shopped a rune bear casting a leafy magical curse.
The Tishman Review nominated my story “And We Who Never Died” for Best Small Fictions.
BSF is an anthology that honors the “best short hybrid fiction published in a calendar year.” The Harvard Review wrote that the pieces in BSF are like a “splash of ice water in the face,” a wake-up call to “your life… unspooling.”
When I heard I’d been nominated, I was like cool beans and moved on to lesson planning and grading.
Then Coffin Bell posted this:
And I discovered that MY WIFE HAS BEEN NOMINATED.
As of this day, she and I are no longer friends. No longer best friends. No longer lovers.
But bitter enemies locked in literary combat.
THIS. MEANS. WAR.
Kasma Magazine published my science-fiction short, “Two Wings, Flightless,” about a man who has to destroy a hovership that’s been solar-beaming the countryside. Kasma is a speculative magazine that publishes a story every first day of the month. Each piece is accompanied by a beautiful bit of art by Jose Baetas. You can see his treatment for my story above.
In “Two Wings,” I wanted to replicate the hero goes to a cave to slay a dragon story in a post-apocalyptic setting, switching the fire-breather for a flying war machine. The result was really fun to write, especially since the narrator was so dour and grit-happy. I’m already planning a sequel.
My short story “House Divided,” about a divorced couple living in a house split between two dimensions, was included in this year’s America’s Emerging Writers, a nationwide anthology produced by Z Publishing. Out of the two thousand stories featured in their statewide editions, “House Divided” was one of 127 pieces selected.
“Good Fulch” is a story I’ve had in my head since high school. The premise is this. A society of robots have to decide if they should let a human live. The original draft was more human-focused; Charlton Heston shaking his fist at those “damn dirty CPUs.” But on a whim I switched the POV to the metal-heads themselves: glorious, dirty, regal, logical minds falling back on the xenophobia that once infected their creators.
The piece’s publication is Ripples in Space, a seasonal magazine devoted to “all things Sci-Fi, Dystopian, AI, [and] Space Marine.” It was the Space Marine mention that intrigued me, being an advocate for both Warhammer 40,000 and the works of Robert Heinlein.
“Good Fulch” features in this year’s Fall Selection.
A feather-fraught Rune Bear by Valeria Rios.
Check out her Twitter and Instagram.
Gaiman was the reason I always had purple baggy-eyes in elementary and middle school. The simplicity of his writings, the interweaving of mythology, monsters, and modernity, and the cruel world behind-the-magic offered my child-self something gripping, something utterly fantastic and appalling to explore late in the night. His writing still does—today—in my late twenties. Personally, my favorite work by Neil Gaiman is The Ocean at the End of the Lane (and not only because Fiction Beer Company has a citrus wheat beer inspired by the novel). I have a theory about literature (I’m allowed a few theories, being an English teacher) that great works must inspire the moral imagination, even if the wisdoms aren’t the sort we want to hear. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the title clues us in—Harper Lee wants us to understand that it’s a “sin to kill a mockingbird” for they “don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” The book indicts an American culture which regularly commits this sacrilege against its disadvantaged and minorities. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, behind an incredible narrative about magic and outsiders, there is an abundance of dark truths about adulthood—its deceptive ontology of control, its routine mindlessness. Gaiman reminds us “Adults follow paths. Children explore;” “Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside;” and—in the most incredible line I’ve read in literature, something that explains the opus of Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft better than they did themselves—that what marks adulthood is not some maturity or inner growth, but the awareness of how fragile the surface of our lives are, the recognition that reality is “a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger.”